SINGAPORE - At least 53 credit-for-sex scam cases were reported to the police in the first half of March this year, with victims losing at least $304,000 to such scammers since Jan 1.
According to a statement from the police, the victims are usually male, who befriend scammers through social media platforms such as Wechat, Locanto and OkCupid.
The scammers would then communicate with the victims through online messaging and phone calls. Once a certain level of rapport has been established, the scammers would arrange to meet the victims at a certain location, where victims would either call the scammers or receive a call from unknown numbers.
The callers would then claim to be the boss or agent and convince the victims to purchase gift cards or online shopping credits such as iTunes or Alipay Purchase Cards, in exchange for a meet-up, date, or the promise of sexual favours.
They will usually insist that the victims buy the Alipay Purchase cards through AXS machines or iTunes Gift cards from convenience stores before asking them to send the credits directly to the scammers' email accounts.
Sometimes, other members of the syndicates will also contact the victims and ask for further purchases of online shopping credits. Victims are also threatened at times if they refuse to make further purchases or payments.
While a majority of the scammers adopt largely Chinese-sounding monikers to target Chinese-speaking victims, there have been recent cases where scammers have turned to using English monikers, said the police.
Those who have any information relating to this scam can call the police hotline at 1800-255 0000, or dial 999 for urgent police assistance.
The police advises the public to take certain precautions to avoid becoming a victim of this scam:
- Be wary of strangers who befriend you online such as through social messaging platforms
- Do not provide personal details about yourself when engaging with other internet users
- Do not share with anyone your payment receipts, e-mails or purchase cards containing details such as PIN numbers that can be used to redeem online credits